9/27/14 :

And anther two and a half years pass...

I've had the Rabbit stored in my garage for the last 3 years. Over on VW Vortex, there's been plans for the 3rd annual A1 Classic over in St. Augustine. I've decided that I want to go this year.

The problem is, I haven't had plates, insurance, or anything on the Rabbit in 5 years. So... off to the DMV I went! I wound up getting insurance and Florida Antique plates (I guess the car IS an antique after all!). It is now legal! I'm a little nervous to drive it, as it's a tiny car in a world full of mobile living rooms, but I'll just have to hug the right lane and not get killed. We'll see how it goes on the freeways around here.

Since I'm going to be making a 200 mile round trip next weekend, I swapped out the dead hood latch that's been plaguing the car since forever. It was extremely simple to do, and I should have done it ages ago. Rivet guns from harbor freight are your friend!

3/21/12 :

Ok, we're now two years later. There has been some news on the Rabbit front. I have moved my Rabbit from Colorado to Florida. It hitched a ride on a trailer that I towed behind a 26' truck. The car sat for 2 years, and when I went to start it, nothing happened. I bought a new battery (what is going on with battery prices??), put it in, and turned the key. It fired on the first crank. That car is really something. I drove it around the storage units, and it operated like it did when I parked it. Simply amazing.

It is now sitting tight in my garage in Orlando, awaiting such a time as to when I can dig into it again. I'll have to get plates and insurance, and I would also like to replace the windshield before I drive it. It will definitely be a winter car down here though. Without air conditioning, it won't be up to the task of keeping me comfortable when the humidity decides to spike. I've uploaded some pictures of its journey to the photo page.

1/7/10 :

Wow, I guess it's been awhile! The big news is that the Rabbit project is on hold. I've relocated to the Orlando, Florida area, and the car is in storage. I probably won't have access to it for at least a year and a half. Once I'm all settled here and have a house again, I'll be ready to attack it again. On another note, the Golf is starting to get up there in miles. It's at just shy of 200K miles, and little problems are starting to plague me. I guess it's a good time to give it some attention so it lasts me a little bit longer. Hopefully at some point, I can upgrade it to a new Golf TDI. We'll see.

6/4/09 :

I swapped the timing belt after work tonight. I'm getting good at doing that. Swapping the belt took just under 2 hours.

I also was able to order a hood latch from a guy on VW Vortex. Hopefully that will fix my problems with the hood being all jacked.

6/3/09 :

I haven't updated this log in quite awhile. Here's a list of what I've done:

I need to order the hood latch pieces which are about $35 at German Auto Parts. I also need to install my timing belt. It's not something I wanted to do again ao soon, but what do you do? I'm also looking at more interior work, such as the carpet and back seat. I'd like to get the interior all finished soon. Also on the to-do list is to order injectors. My transmission is still sitting there too.

I'm also thinking about attempting some of the bodywork myself. I'm getting tired of waiting to see if I'll ever have the cash to have it done, so why not attempt it myself? I can't make it worse! We'll see how things go. I'll write more as more happens.

2/12/09 :

So I got my diesel Rabbit tach all set up and working using Roger Brown's optical pickup wheel design. It was beautiful. A working rev counter in that old car. Talk about neat.

So I buttoned it all up and took it for a spin. It was working perfectly, when all of a sudden, the tach went dead. I wondered what the hell was going on, so I started to drive home. On the way home, the car started to buck and kick. Soon, it would barely run. I hobbled home, and killed the car. Smoke started pouring out the tailpipe. Now I'm really nervous.

I pushed the car in the garage and took stock of the situation. The front bolt on the timing belt cover had come undone. Because of that, the cover tipped against the injection pump pulley wheel, taking the tach optical sensor clean off. That explains why the tach died. There was oil all over the outside of the valve cover. I hate those stupid cork valve cover gaskets.

I'm hoping the sensor didn't go flying down into the lower belt cover. Looks like I get to pull it apart and have a looksee. I'm still not sure why the car was trying to die. that doesn't make much sense.

I had the power for the tach converter hooked to the stop solenoid. I figured the car was bucking because it was coming loose or something, but when I popped the hood, all was tight.

It's times like these, I just wanna sell the car and make it someone else's problem. I'll probably just let it sit for awhile, and then have a look. What really makes me nervous, is the smoke smelled like coolant. I've only got 4K miles on this head gasket. I was at around 4K rpm when the tach stopped working. With my luck, it blew something big time.

So, anyway, there's my situation. My Rabbit is currently in the garage, cooling off. After I cool off, I'll start pulling it apart and try to find out what the hell happened.

2/7/09 :

The tachometer works. I ordered the optical pickup wheel from Roger Brown, AKA Missinglinkz, and all works properly. I'm going to enjoy that immensely. I uploaded some pics of the event. The information on the tach conversion is here: Roger's tach page

11/1/08 :

I finally got around to updating about the headliner. I have completed it, and it looks great. I've uploaded pictures of the final product. working around the sunroof was difficult, but not impossible. It still doesn't work quite right, so I've gotta get in there and adjust some things. However, all of it looks really good.

I also got new tires for my alloy wheels that have been in my garage for forever. I've uploaded a pic.

9/18/08 :

I made more progress on the headliner. I still need to glue around the sunroof and under the windshield. I'm not sure how the windshield is going to work, but the sunroof shouldn't be toooo bad. I've uploaded more pics on the photo page.

9/13/08 :

Today, I tackled replacing the headliner. I purchased material from Joann's Fabrics. They had beige material for $12.99 a yard, and they had around 2.25 yards in stock. I bought all the had, and then went over to Checker to buy some adhesive. I got the 3M headliner adhesive, which cost around $14. Then, I tackled the headliner.

After carefully gluing the material to the headliner board, and putting it in the car, I started to get excited, as the car was starting to look like a car inside again. After some careful trimming, I was able to glue things up properly. I'm still not sure how the sunroof is going to work, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. All in all, it looks great for $44 in materials.

I've uploaded a few pictures of the progress. It's really not a difficult procedure, it's just time consuming, and you have to make sure to do it correctly.

6/18/08 :

Wow! Has it been two years since I've updated in here?

Well, what have I been up to? The Rabbit has been used as a backup car over the past couple years. I haven't really done much to it, as life and finances have gotten in the way. I'm still looking for a reasonable bodyshop/moonlighter who can really make the Rabbit look as good as it can. That's going to be a long search, I think.

Plans are to finally install the 5-speed, buy tires, install a headliner, and get the car painted. We'll see how long it'll take to actually get these things done. I'll keep things posted.

7/18/06 :

I haven't worked on the Rabbit too much lately, but I've done a few things. First, I was able to find a pair of leatherette front seats for the car that were in great condition. They are a lot better than the ones that came out. Second, I pressurewashed the new/used 5-speed transmission to get all the greasy gook off. It's much shinier. I've uploaded a pic to the photo page so you can see the difference.

1/21/06 :

I decided to see if my carpet was salvageable today. I went out with the little green machine and experimented on the passenger side of the car. The shampooer was able to pick up a lot of the past 25 years worth of crap, but it still couldn't get all of it. Plus, it looks like parts of the carpet are really threadbare. One suggestion I got for the really greasy bits was to use brake cleaner. I'll test an area on the carpet to make sure it doesn't pull the color out, and if it works, I'll try to rescue what's left of it. I've uploaded some photos of my carpet work so you can see what I'm talking about.

1/17/06 :

I went to the local junkyard, and found some trim bits that I've been missing. I got a grill in perfect condition for $10! I also found perfect tail lights for $10 apiece! I've installed the grill, as my old one was in three pieces. I also reinstalled the headliner cardboard in the car without attaching new material. The headliner will have to come out again in order to do any paint work, so I didn't want to have to fight with it. The problem was all the roof foam was trying to fall on my head when I drove the car. Now it's at least livable. I've started cleaning the 5-speed some more as well. I want that thing shiny before I put it in.

I've also noticed that the bunny is louder than it used to be. I'm wondering if the timing is too far advanced. I'll have to check the timing and make sure it isn't set too high. it should be set to about .95mm for the high altitude here, but no more. If that doesn't fix it, it's probably time to rebuild the injectors. I think they might be the orignal ones. If so, they're way overdue.

1/5/06 :

In the last few months, I've repaired the pedal cluster and reinstalled it. I had a friend weld the tube back on, and then I painted it. I also ordered new pedal pads, as the old ones were really worn out. After reinstalling the cluster, I put oil in the clutch cable tube in order to keep it from binding so much, and reinstalled it. It now shifts smooth as silk. Now, I can set my sights back on the 5-speed that's been hogging the bench for 6 months.

10/22/05 :

I haven't updated the page for awhile, since the Rabbit has been sitting. A couple of months ago, I took it out for a drive, and about 4 miles from home, it felt like the clutch cable broke. I drove it home in second, which is tricky, since you have to be careful at stoplights and things like that. I eventually made it home, and ordered a new clutch cable.

The clutch cable came in, and I pulled out the old one. When I got it out, it looked just fine. What didn't look fine was the metal tube that came out with it. I grabbed the old bentley, and discovered that this tube was part of the pedal cluster.

I did some research online, and found that the clutch cable tube breaks occasionally on these cars, and the fix is to pull out the pedal cluster, reweld the tube, and put it back. That sounded like so much fun, that the car sat.

Today, I finally pulled out the pedal cluster, which was a huge job. The cluster is held to the firewall with three nuts that are attached to the vacuum booster bracket. These nuts are just about impossible to get at. I was able to loosen the brake booster and pull it forward enough to get a box-end wrench on the nuts. After that, it was one 13mm nut on the firewall area inside the car, the steering column leaf spring, and the 4 bolts that hold the steering column on. You have to loosen the steering column in order to get the cluster out. The cluster is out and sitting on my garage floor at this time. I've got a couple friends who can weld the tube back on.

8/17/05 :

I uploaded a picture of my progress (slow) on the transmission. It's really greasy!

8/3/05 :

I don't have much to share right now. It's been really hot around here for the last month or so. It makes my garage feel like an oven. I did clean some of the transmission off. It's about halfway there. In another few weeks, I'll probably go out and finish it up and start pulling the 4-speed out.

The real news is that I cured my smoking issue. I turned the fueling down by 1/8th of a turn, and that was enough to kill the smoke while not killing any of the “power”. It's nice being able to accellerate, and not having to worry about smoking the guy out behind you.

I'm really looking forward to start the process of making the car not ugly again. I've been really wanting to start pulling the interior, pulling the bumpers, and getting it ready to fix some of the dents, dings, etc. It'll probably still be awhile, as it'll cost roughly $3K to get this all done. When it finally gets done, I'll post pictures. ;)

6/5/05 :

I picked up a 5-speed transmission last weekend for the princely sum of $50. It's an FN code, and I'm told it shifts perfectly. However, it is one greasy ball of mess. It needs to be blasted clean. I'll start cleaning it in the next week or so.

The bad news this week is I definately have an oil leak. It looks like the cam seal isn't seated quite right. I'm going to have to take the timing belt stuff apart and have a look. Hopefully, it's an easy fix. The bummer is now I'll have to figure out how to clean that mess up again.

5/24/05 :

I ordered new front and rear motor mounts for the Rabbit. I put the rear one in, which was a lot easier than I expected. It is bolted to a bracket that's bolted to the underside of the car, and another bracket which is bolted to the transmission. There were 5 bolts total. After pulling the old one, I found that it was broken! It basically wasn't doing anything at all! The new one looked a LOT better than the old one. I installed it, and 45 minutes later, I started the car. Most of the vibration is now gone. The car also feels like it has a little more power, probably because the power from the engine is going to the pavement instead of making the engine rock back and forth. I'll install the front one in a day or two.

I also took the car onto the freeway for the first time since I've replaced all of the front end parts. It drove very smoothly, and at one point, I was going 75 mph. Then I hit a decent grade. The speedometer began to drop. 75...70...65...60... Then the top of the hill. The car does not like the altitude up here. I'm beginning to think about adding a turbo or possibly getting a Turbo Diesel engine for the car. The Normally Aspirated engine just doesn't have the power for the freeways around here. Any amount of boost would probably be a big increase in power at this point.

4/13/05 :

I got the oil mess cleaned up. It took a can of engine brite and a hose. Once it was all cleaned up, I pulled the baffle out and put the valve cover back on. It seemed that everything was ok. I lost about a half quart of oil on the ground, so I'll need to add a little.

The bad news is it looks like I have an oil leak now. I'm keeping an eye on it, but it looks like it's coming from the timing belt side of the engine. I'll have to pull the covers off and have a closer look. The fun never ends!

3/29/05 :

A lot has happened lately. First, the car now goes fast. I had it up to 75 on the highway, and it feels perfectly solid. It's more solid than it has ever been! I was quite pleased.

Second, after driving it at 75, oil was leaking around the vent tube leading into the intake. I tightend it up, but now I'm paranoid about blowby. I decided to see if my father had any more of the oil baffles left. He had purchased two of them for use in his diesels, and I wasn't sure if he still had them. Sure enough, he still had one.

I decided to give it a try. I pulled the valve cover, and installed the baffle. After tightening the cover back down, everything seemed to be ok.

So tonight, I decided to take the car for a quick drive. Now, as anyone who owns one of these diesels knows, the valve cover is held on with 8 10mm nuts. These nuts are more strippable than anything I've ever seen. I found out exactly how strippable after my 3 mile drive. My head is now covered, and I mean COVERED in oil. It's going to take a miracle to clean it all off. I'm really pissed about the whole thing, but I don't want to think about it. I'll try washing all that crap off tomorrow. ARRRRRGHHH!!!

2/4/05 :

I got an alignment done at the VW dealer yesterday (they were the cheapest, believe it or not!), and now the car drives pretty much straight. It still pulls slightly, but I think it's my cheapo tires doing that more than anything in the front end. It feels REALLY solid now. On the passenger side, the camber was off by more than a degree, while the toe was off .5 degrees. The drivers side was off on camber, but not on toe. Now, it's dead on. I think it's the first time I've ever had the car aligned properly, where it'll actually hold it for more than a day. I'm going to drive it a bit tomorrow and see how it handles with all the new stuff.

The engine feels like it's not running perfectly. It feels kinda rough and it still smokes a bit. I'm going to replace the front and rear motor mounts, since they are more than likely original, and see if that quiets the engine down some. I also need to drive it a bit and try to get through the tank of fuel that's in it, so I can fill it with B20 Biodiesel. That should cut down on the smoking. With the altitude in Colorado, the car is pretty slow and smokey, so I'm hoping that the Bio helps.

1/29/05 :

The Rabbit is back on all fours now. I finished replacing all the parts around the wheel, and set it down. Everything feels really tight now. I took it for a short drive, and found that it REALLY needs an alignment. I'll have to have one done before I can drive it any more.

1/27/05 :

It's been very busy over the last 4 months, so I haven't had much time to work on the Rabbit. I was last working on the passenger side wheel bearing, brakes, ball joint, etc. I found when I pulled the control arm that it was slightly bent. I ordered a new one, put my bushings on, and found that the ball joint didn't exactly line up with the holes on the control arm. I had to pull out the dremel and grind away a bit of the holes in order to get the screws in. That was the last time I worked on the car. I'm trying to find more time to go out and put it back together. It's been on three wheels since the last update. Hopefully, it'll be on the road again soon. Then it's time to tackle the U-Joint and tires.

9/16/04 :

today, I replaced the drivers side wheel bearing, ball joint, and brakes. The rotors that were on the car are original, so I figured it was their time. I had purchased brand new vented GTI rotors and pads to put on it. After the housing was removed, I found that when the hub was turned, the bearing was grinding away in there. Good thing I replaced it. It looked like the seal on it had failed. I've uploaded some new pictures in the gallery of my progress.

9/10/04 :

I finished installing the front suspension this week. All I can say is that this car has never handled better. Ever. Anyone who wants to get a great ride in their Rabbit, I highly recommend the setup that I purchased (H&R Sport Springs, Bilstien Sport struts). It is amazing! I can't wait to get the rest of the front end replaced so I can get it aligned and get tires for my snowflakes. I really like it.

In other news, my car started smoking like a chimney. At about half throttle, it's dumping a bunch of fuel out the tailpipe. I'm thinking it's really time to rebuild the injectors. I think they are the original ones. If so, that explains a lot. I think they're supposed to be replaced every 100K miles or so. If so, that's bad for me! I'll have to call the local bosch shop to see how much they'd charge to rebuild them. Hopefully that would fix the problem.

9/7/04 :

Ok, it's been awhile since the last update. Here's what's been going on:

All in all, I've been pretty productive on it. I just need to finish the suspension and front wheel bearings, and get my new brakes and rotors installed. Also, the ball joints need to be replaced. I'll be doing all that over the next couple of weeks.

7/21/04 :

Since I replaced the rear suspension, I figured while I was back there I should replace the drum brakes. The rear brakes were so shot, that when I pulled them apart, the self adjuster was dangling in there. I put in all new pads, springs, bearings, drums, and wheel cylinders. It's sparkly in there now! On the drivers side, the inner bearing likes to stick to the stub axle. I'm going to have to figure that out before I completely reassemble it. I've uploaded some before and after photos of the brakes in the photo section.

6/25/04 :

I just received an order for an all new suspension, new brakes all around, and new ball joints. The suspension is made up of Bilstien Sport shocks with H&R sport springs. I have installed the rear assemblies in the Rabbit, and have already noticed a HUGE improvement in handling in the rear. I've uploaded some pictures of the new struts in the photo gallery. I'm really eager to install the fronts now, but I'll need to borrow a spring compressor for that!

Also, I've put 600 miles on the Rabbit since it started. It's time to re-torque the head bolts another quarter turn. I'm starting to get a little valve noise, though. Hopefully I don't have to pull the head again! I'll put a little Marvel Mystery Oil in and see if that helps.

5/16/04 :

I got emissions on the Rabbit and purchased plates last week. Emissions in Colorado is $60 per year for diesels. I'm really glad that the car will be 25 years old in a couple of years, since that means it will be a collectors car at that time. After that, no more emissions. It passed with flying colors, and now has regular license plates again!

Since I've had it on the road, I've put almost 400 miles on it. Soon, I'll have to tighten the head bolts some more in order to make sure the head gasket doesn't leak. I'm also planning to do some work on the suspension, steering, and brakes.

4/23/04 :

The new site is live! If anyone has any feedback or comments, please let me know. The Rabbit has 175 miles since it started. I took it for a 30 mile drive tonight to keep things moving. It did really well. I still need to track down my radiator fan gremlin, though.

4/11/04 :

Today, I took the Rabbit for a drive. After bringing it home, I let it idle in the driveway for a bit, then pulled it back in the garage. I shut the car off, and prepared to close the garage door. I started hearing a hissing noise. I started to think, “uh-oh...” when all of a sudden, there was the terrible sound of a pop and rushing water. I rushed over to the car and discovered that the bottom hose on the overflow tank had popped off, and it was spewing coolant all over the place!

I hurredly started vacuuming up the coolant with my trusty shop vac, and then reconnected the hose. I had some 50/50 coolant mixed, so I started to fill it up again. I don't want that head warped! After filling it, I started it, and backed it back into the driveway, and made sure that it was full. I then shut it off. Hopefully no damage was done.

After that spectacle, I washed the engine off, and then started to check the fan. I shorted the fan switch connector, and as I feared, nothing happened. Great. The fan will not come on normally. Something else to troubleshoot. That is definately next on the list of things to fix. If the fan doesn't work, that could be very bad.

4/10/04 :

Lately, I've been focusing on redesigning the site in order to make it a little more visually appealing. As far as the Rabbit goes, the universal joint is bad. This explains why the steering is so darn loose. My father has a VW Pickup that is rusted all to bits, and the u-joint in it is still good. I'll have to make a trip up there to swipe it.

3/17/04 :

Today, I went to the DMV and got a temporary plate for the car. I am now legal! I also got insurance as well, so I can drive the Rabbit whenever I want to. Right after that, I took it for a drive around the hills around here, and it did really well. Some problems include:

I also purchased a vacuum pump rebuild kit, since the brakes don't work very well. You have to stand on them to stop. Now, though, all is well.

2/23/04 :

I had the radiator repaired. Apparently, the return tube was completely blocked. When the radiator built up enough pressure, it ripped a small hole next to that tube, and that's where my leak came from. After getting it fixed ($45), I put it back in, tightened up the connections, and fired it up. The car started incredibly easily. I backed it out of the driveway, and drove it around the block. The engine seems to run great. Everything else is still a mess, though. It appears that the project has just begun. I've added three pictures to the gallery.

2/2/04 :

Last week, I purchased a battery, oil, coolant, an oil filter/air filter/fuel filter, put the last parts on the car, and timed it. After priming the pump, it came time to try to start it. I jumped in the drivers seat, pre-heated the glow plugs, and turned the key. the car turned over like crazy, but would not start. After three or four tries, the car started to sputter, then roared to life! IT'S ALIVE!!!! After letting it run for about 10 minutes, I discovered that the fuel return line from the injection pump to the injectors had a small leak. Also, after letting the thermostat open, the radiator started spewing coolant out of a pinhole leak. So, there's a couple of hurdles to overcome before I can actually try to drive it. Once I stopped the car, I retorqued the head bolts again (I am NOT making that mistake again!)

So, yesterday, I hunted up a new hose for the return line, and installed it. The car started again with no effort, and the fuel leak was gone. I found out that getting the radiator repaired will cost about $45. That is next on the list.

12/13/03 :

Well, between the holidays and the cold, I haven't worked on the Rabbit at all. We've had 35 degree (F) highs for the last couple of weeks, and I haven't really had the time to get out there and finish it up. I did find out that my alternator is bad, but I have a spare that seems to be ok. I'll have to clean it up really good and install it. I also now have access to a 5-speed. The only stipulation is that I have to go and pull it. Hopefully, it warms up enough for a day that I can go grab it.

11/21/03 :

I installed my new waterpump and thermostat two days ago. Also, I purchased all new hoses and installed them as well. Basically, all that needs to be done is I need to put the belts on, time it, and stick in a good battery. Before I do this, however, I should replace the front main seal to make sure there are no leaks. Leaks = bad!! Hopefully I'll have the car running very shortly.

One thing I'm a little worried about is the fuel that's in the tank. The car has officially been sitting for about two and a half years now. The fuel is probably not so good. I'll have to think about what to do with it before I start running through it. More to come...

10/05/03 :

$104 after dropping the injection pump off at the local Bosch service center, my pump is back with all new seals. In order to reattach it to the engine, I needed to put the waterpump housing back on the engine. I don't have a new waterpump yet, but it's still really easy to get to. I put the housing and the alternater bracket back in, and then attached the injection pump. The engine is really starting to look like a diesel engine again! Hopefully I'll have it running properly soon. I've put a photo in the gallery that shows the engine in its current state.

8/24/03 :

A lot has happened since the last update. I cleaned and polished the block, cleaned the head, and reattached the head. I also pulled the oil pan and had the dent beat out of it. I then replaced the oil pan gasked, and put it back on. The engine is really starting to come back together. Hopefully with all these new parts, there aren't any more leaks! All that's left is the waterpump, thermostat, hoses, belts, a battery, and odds and ends. I also have to get the seals on the injection pump replaced, and put the pump back on the engine. I hope to have it running by the end of September. That means that it'll run by the end of the year. ;-) I've uploaded a current picture of the engine into the gallery.

5/17/03 :

Today, I installed the passenger side axle and radiator into the car. I still need to get a tensioner pulley and hardened nuts for the exhaust manifold in order to put the head back on. It's gettin' closer!!

3/13/03 :

I recently had my brand new motor mount pressed into the motor mount bracket. The old one had seen better days. It was pretty shot. The new one is so pretty, I hate to put it in the car! I also purchased new hardened head studs which should keep them from breaking again. I installed them, and then reinstalled my motor mount bracket in the car. I also installed the intermediate shaft seal in its journal, and reinstalled it into the car. I've uploaded some more pictures in the gallery of the head/head studs, new seals, and motor mount.

2/17/03 :

Lets see, what has happened lately? I had the stud that was broken in the head removed. I also had it checked to see if it was warped. The head is warped .004", which is still within spec! After 314,000 miles, that head still is usable. And the amazing part is that it's the original one! I also have been installing new oil seals to avoid further contamination of the timing belt later on. I've put up a picture of the head after installing the new seal. Updates should be happening a little more often now since the weather has started to improve.

11/5/02 :

There hasn't been a whole lot going on with my Rabbit lately, as we just got a bunch of snow and cold weather. Recently (over the last bunch o' months), I've pulled the radiator and fan, cleaned up the housing, ditched the old radiator, and found a new (used) one. Also, I've gotten a used axle with two good CV joints on it, but it's been too cold to put it in. Hopefully there will be more to tell in the next few weeks, as I'm getting ready to do some more work on the ol' beast. Hopefully it'll warm up a little soon!

6/13/02 :

Tonight, I removed the water pump. Three of the seven bolts that hold the water pump to the housing snapped off right at the heads. They were rusted in place, and not about to move. I removed the housing, but haven't taken the time yet to pull them. They will probably have to be drilled. Since the car needs a new water pump anyway, I figured I might as well get the car ready to take on the new one.

4/25/02 :

I cleaned the head up some more, and made a clean spot on the firewall! It's actually starting to look clean in there! I posted some pictures of the progress on the pictures page.

4/11/02 :

Tonight, I cleaned more of the head. Exciting, huh? The back of the head is coated with so much grease, it's beyond words to describe. I've been using simple green and a toothbrush to get it off. It'll probably take another couple of days just to get the head completely cleaned up. YUCK!

4/9/02 :

I started cleaning up the head. I removed the exhaust manifold and the intake manifold. The intake looks caked in tons of goo that's been there for the past 20 years. The back of the head was horrible. The leaking oil had turned into a giant layer of sludge. I've uploaded a picture of the head after about 2 hours of cleaning. It's going to take awhile.

3/31/02 :

The head has been removed! I left all the manifolds on the head when I removed it. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought to pull it. The head gasket came off with no effort, and immediately, I saw where it was leaking. In-between cylinders 3 and 4 is a little rubber gasket that's built into the head gasket. When I re-attached the head last time, I didn't torque it quite to specifications, and so it leaked. I'm adding some pictures to the pics section of the engine without the head, and you can see in between 3 and 4 a little dark stain, which is where the coolant was leaking. The next few weeks are going to be spent cleaning the engine bay and the head. I'm also going to take the head down to one of the local VW repair shops, and have a little work done on it.

I've also uploaded some pictures of some pieces that are all set to be put in the car at a later date. I was contacted by a local guy who had some interior parts he was pulling out of his pickup. I went down to his house, and discovered he had a perfect dash in the right color! He also had lots of misc interior parts that I grabbed. They were all free! (free is good.) Also, I've had a set of 4 14" snowflakes from a Rabbit GTI that I purchased some time ago. All 4 are in perfect condition. I've taken a picture of one of them, and uploaded it.

I'll keep documenting any progress that is made on the car in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the pics!

2/23/02 :

Yesterday, I removed the timing belt and the tensioner pulley. There's a lot of grease and oil underneath the pulley wheels and the timing belt. I guess all the seals need replacement as well. The timing belt is shot. It really needed to be replaced anyway. It has a groove running all the way around it on the outside, and some of the leaking oil was congealing on it. That's a recipe for disaster!

2/4/02 :

I removed the stuck bolt!! I ended up having to drill it out (GRRR). It's too late to keep working on the car, but I thought I'd share the joy.


Picture of the bolt after drilling it out.

1/27/02 :

Well, it's been awhile since an update. Basically, the car has been sitting for several months. I began taking things apart, and got stuck at the crank pulley. The crank pulley has 4 allen bolts that like to round out. Well, I was one of those people lucky enough to have one. The 6mm allen rounded the inside out. So, I tapped in a 1/4" allen. It rounded the inside as well. So, I tried an EZ-out with an impact tool. It basically gummed the inside out even more. I've tried a torch and visegrips with no effect. Basically, I'm getting pretty pissed at the whole thing. I've uploaded a picture of the offending bolt, plus a picture of the car sitting with the wheel off (exciting stuff.) Enjoy!

On a lighter note, I found an outlet to get my fuel injection pump repaired. There is a bosch service center about 20 miles from here in the town of Greeley CO that I found at http://www.boschservice.com/. They will replace the seals that started leaking for between $30-60!! Finally, some good news! I'll probably take it to them in a couple of weeks.

8/15/01 :

Today, I decided to start work on the car, regardless if I have a new Injection pump or not. Even though I've been waiting for the right pump to come along, the head gasket still needs to be changed. So, Tonight, I pulled off the valve cover and cleaned and painted it. I cleaned all the surfaces that the valve cover mounts to, and cleaned the studs as well. The nuts look like they need to be replaced, which doesn't suprise me too much, considering at 10 ft/lbs they strip out. I also chucked my Air Filter, as it was pretty caked up. I don't think it's been changed since about 1996. The air intake looks pretty nasty. I'm not sure how I'm going to clean it up. It's got a lot of old oil inside from when the engine was blown. Once I get the head off, I'm going to have all the valves checked, the cam checked, and the exaust bolts that have broken off inside removed. Also, I'll have it checked to make sure it isn't warped. It would be pretty lame to get all the way down there and find out that the whole reason the thing was leaking was because the head had overheated years ago. If I continue doing work on the car, I'll keep you updated.

5/26/01 :

It's been awhile since I've done an update, because it's been awhile since I've worked on the Rabbit. Since I've had to finish landscaping my yard, keep my third car running proper with a new timing belt/water pump (Ford Festiva), my wife's car running proper with a new timing belt (Escort ZX2), I haven't had the chance to mess with the Rabbit. It still needs a good fuel injection pump, though. Every once in awhile, I've been cleaning the engine compartment. Basically, I've just taken simple green and loads of paper towels, and scrubbed the 20 years of gook off of the paint. It's starting to look pretty decent in there. When I pull the head to do the head gasket, I'll have to clean off the firewall. Other than that, there's been no Rabbit news.

2/4/01 :

Today, my father and I attempted to get the fuel injection pump changed out. The new/used one that we put on leaks worse than the one we pulled off. The car won't even fire with it. It leaks out of the cold start switch and the throttle. I guess I'm still in the market for either a good used pump or a remanufactured one. It's gonna be really difficult to spend $400 for a reman though. I've included pictures of our work in the pictures section (they aren't very good, but they give the general idea.)

2/2/01 :

I added a kinda blurry picture of my "new" in dash CD-player in the Rabbit. I know it's not a really big fix, but it's kinda fun to mess with the car audio.

1/31/01 :

Today, I pulled my Pioneer CD player out of my Ford Aspire (it's getting sold), and put it in my Rabbit in place of the Alpine cassette deck that's in there. The sound quality has been improved dramatically, although the front speakers really suck. I think they were purchased when the car was new. I'm selling the Aspire in order to get a 2001 Golf GLS TDI (YAY!!) Once a dieseler, always a dieseler, right?

1/5/01 :

I took some pictures of my Rabbit in the garage. Once the garage is cleaned out, I'll start tearing the engine down to replace the head gasket. Enjoy!!

12/19/00 :

The other day, I went out to start the Rabbit and drive it around. It would not start to save my life. After lotsa troubleshooting, I discovered that the injection pump was empty. I primed it, and the car started right up. After parking it again, the diesel leaked out of the pump again. Not good. The injection pump seals are gone again. This really tells you that you need to treat the fuel, as the low sulfur will destroy your pump. Fortunately, I was able to acquire a used pump from a coworker. Hopefully it will work properly. After driving it around last time, I washed the car, and parked it in my garage. There it will sit until the engine can be ripped apart and repaired. Hopefully its just a new head gasket that's required, and not a new block.

9/24/00 :

I just discovered that my oil is leaking into the coolant. Guess it's time for a head gasket replacement. Also, my oil is getting a little grey. I'll need to change it out to keep things from getting hurt. On a lighter note, I got 47MPG on the last tank! I still haven't bolted down the parts for the tach yet. It does work, but it needs to be installed permanently. Once I get my garage cleared out (isn't moving fun?), I'll start pulling the head. Once the head is pulled, I'll have it checked for warping, adjust the valves, check the cam, and have an exaust manifold bolt drilled that's broken off inside it. Oh, joy!

8/7/00 :

Haven't updated anything in awhile. I've done it!! I got the tachometer working. I have to tweak it a little, but once all the screws are tightened, so to speak, it will work perfectly! It's kinda neat having the tachometer work in it. I've always wanted one of those in this car. I used Roger Brown's circuit to get it working. His diesel tachometer page is here.

In other news, I've been doing small things to the car over the last month or so. I replaced the drivers side windshield sprayer, so now that works perfectly. I also washed my engine the other day again. It's almost clean! I need to hose it down some more, but it's getting there.

6/21/00 :

Not much happening on the Rabbit lately. I'm closing on a house next week (two car garage, YAY!), and so work on the bunny should be picking up in July. I drive it about once every two weeks just to keep things working. I currently am out of diesel, but I've got 530 miles on the tank :D . Diesels RULE!!

4/27/00 :

I just uploaded a picture of my tachometer install. Notice that the car is started, but the tach is sitting at 0. I still need to install the optical wheel and sensor. When I get that done, I'll report my findings here. Also, I pulled off the steering wheel and straightened it out. When I replaced the bushings, I found that the center was way different than what my wheel thought. I'll have to get an alignment soon so I don't eat my front tires.

4/22/00 :

Well, the tach is installed. It doesn't work yet, but it is in my instrument cluster. I ran a wire from the B terminal out to the engine compartment. I can't wait to get the parts to make the thing work!

4/19/00 :

Yesterday, I went to the local salvage yard and purchased an instrument cluster out of an '83 Rabbit GTI. I'm going to put the tachometer in my diesel, using Roger Brown's modification to the injection pump wheel. I'll post my findings on my page when I get there. I should be able to do the mod within the next few weeks. As far as the Rabbit goes, it's really nice driving it now with those bushings changed. Going straight is a good thing! There really isn't anything new lately, but I'll post anything different.

3/25/00 :

Today, I went up to my parents house to tackle the control arm problem. I pulled off the drivers side control arm with no difficulty, and replaced the bushings there. That went back in without a hitch. The passenger side was a different story. The bushings were really messed up in that one. Also, it was bent pretty badly. I pulled the control arm from the passenger side off of the parts car, and replaced the bushings on it. Once that was installed in my car, I put the bent control arm in the parts car (so it would still be towable). When all this was done, I drove home, and was immediately startled by the differences between the old one and the new one. The car doesn't pull anymore, and there is much less road noise than before (YAY!).

3/13/00 :

Not much has been going on until lately. The Rabbit started leaking diesel all over the place. I found that one of the fuel return hoses had ruptured, and was making a huge mess. I purchased some hose and a valve cover gasket, and installed them yesterday. Hopefully the valve cover will not leak anymore. While I was doing this, I noticed that the injector that that hose is connected to is also leaking around the base. I will try to tighten that the next time I work on it. Also, I ordered some bushings for the control arms. I will install these this weekend. When I picked up the bushings, I found that they had a rear door handle for 5 bucks! I picked this up and installed it tonight. Now I have 4 working door handles!!

1/30/00 :

Yesterday, I drove the car down to Boulder and then Denver, which is a 100 mile trip there and back, and it did very well. No problems, and the Rabbit started in 10 degree F. weather without any trouble. Also, today I uploaded some more pictures of the Rabbit in the Picture section of the site. Check them out!

1/24/00 :

Lately, I've been either driving the Rabbit around to keep the thing going, or replacing little things that need to be done. About two weekends ago, I replaced one glow plug that was giving me headaches. The car would not start without begging it. Fortunately, the parts car had some good glow plugs in it. I pulled the injection pipes off of the engine, and tested all the plugs. Sure enough, one of them was bad. Replacement was fairly easy, and now starting the beast is a piece of cake. The glow plugs usually light for about 45 seconds, and then the car starts as easily as a gasoline car. I also replaced the hatch hydrolic strut that holds the hatch open last Wednesday. The old one was doing no good, and now with the new one, the hatch tries to jump out of your hand when you open it. I took the car for a drive tonight, and found that one of the CV joints is definately about to go. I'll have to give those attention pretty quickly now.

By the way, the second tank came out at 43 MPG.

12/29/99 :

I haven't really done anything on the car for awhile, although I am planning on really hitting it in January. I did change the oil a few weeks ago, and I have driven through a full tank now (That took forever!!). On that tank, I ended up with 44 MPG. Not bad for an older than dirt Rabbit. I added some pictures of the car today for everyone's viewing pleasure.

10/25/99 :

Today, I drove the car up to the insurance agent, and put some insurance on the car.  The car is very difficult to drive right now due to the really, really loose front end.  It tends to wander a bit, and the pulling is a little annoying.  At least I am allowed to drive it now, so testing out newly fixed problems won't be too difficult.

10/14/99 :

I decided to get a good look at the underside of the car today.  I put it up on the ramps, and checked it all out.  It looks pretty bad.  Everything leaks a little.  The oil pan was scraped against something.  Everything rubber is dry and cracked.  All of the motor mounts are in really sad shape.  The passenger side motor mount is sagged out to the point where I don't think it's doing anything.  I can stick my finger in underneath the mount bolt, and feel little bits of rubber that have dried and cracked off.  Both control arms are bent, though not as much as I had feared.  Still, they should both be replaced, as well as their bushings and ball joints.  The tranny is leaking a little fluid (which is Ok, since I want to get a 5-speed anyway).  All in all, it LOOKS like it has over 300,000 miles on it.  Basically, everything needs to be worked on.  There is CV boot grease EVERYWHERE!  That doesn't surprise me, since it sounds like one of the joints is ready to go.  It's a real mess.  I'm surprised that the car runs as well as it does, since everything looks very well used.  I also put on the 5-speed shift knob since the 4 speed one looked really banged up.  I still don't really have a 5-speed, but who will know?

9/15/99 :

Today, I put in the emergency brake cables that had been waiting to go in for about 4 years.  The Rabbits have a "feature" in them that is pretty annoying.  After years of using the E-Brake, the handle begins to wobble from side to side.  Eventually on my car, the little sprocket that keeps the handle up came out of it's track.  The quick fix was to pull the handle all the way up and get the sprocket lined back up.  I ended up breaking one of the cables doing this.  I ordered replacements way back when, but never got around to putting them in.  When I turned the car back over to my dad, I gave him the cables to put in the car when he found the time.  It turns out he never did it either.  So now, since I'm a little short of funds, and need something to do on the car, I've finally gotten around to doing this.  After putting them in, I pulled up the handle, and everything seems to work.  However, the rear brakes are pretty much shot, as the E-brake doesn't do much of anything.  It helps a little, but doesn't even come close to stopping the car.  Time for new brake drums and shoes.  Yay.  More parts to replace.

8/22/99 :

I whacked out the dent in the rear until it wouldn't leak through the tail-light anymore, or at least it won't leak as much as it did.  It still looks bad, although better.

8/13-15/99 :

Over this weekend, I cleaned out the hatch.  Let me tell you, it was incredibly NASTY!  There was mud in the spare tire well.  That's right, MUD!  I used 3/4 of a bottle of simple green on the hatch, cleaning out all of the dirt and crap.  Long ago, my dad put a trailer hitch on the Rabbit.  When I got the car in college, I removed the hitch, and didn't really worry about the mounts.  Well, the mounts have been leaking forever.  I need to pull the mounts out, and weld some new metal where the holes were cut for the bolts.  Fortunately, we don't get too much nasty weather here in Colorado (contrary to popular belief), so there's only light surface rust in the hatch.  I'll still have to sand it and repaint it.  I also cleaned up the back doors and under the back seat.  The back doors look brand new on the inside.  That's a good thing.  Something I don't have to fix :-) !

8/7/99 :

I went up to the parts car and removed the inside door panel from it.  It's in perfect condition, and mine isn't.  Since the one from the parts car is blue, and mine is tan, I simply pulled the tan off of the warped and destroyed panel and put it on the panel from the parts car.  I stapled it down, put it on, replaced the plastic inside of the door, and put the panel on.  It looks great!  Almost perfect.  I also decided to pull out the headliner, as it was being held in place by the front window, hatch, sunroof, and not much else.  Every time you would get in the car, you would have to duck around that thing.  It's amazing how everything under the headliner looks really new.  I'll order a new one from JC Whitney sometime, and replace it.

7/31/99 :

Today, I pulled the drivers mirror off of the car, and replaced it with one of the remote control units.  Much better!  The old one was glued in place permanentaly.  Not good.  I also pulled out the instrument cluster and replaced the turn signal bulb with the one from the parts car.  It works now.  Also, the passenger side vent was just flopping around.  There is a little spacer that is supposed to go in these things, and mine was missing.  I had pulled the vent off the parts car, and removed the spacer from it.  Put it in my vent, and it works.  Wow!  I then decided to clean up the garage, since it was looking pretty bad.

7/25/99 :

I went up to the parentals house today, and robbed more parts off of the parts car.  I pulled out the parts I had been thinking about yanking, such as the headlight, and the winshield sprayers.  I repaired the front winshield washer nozzles so that they work properly.  Unfortunately, the parts car had a broken drivers side winshield sprayer as well, so I'll have to get one from another car somewhere else.

7/22/99 :

I drove the car to work for the first time today. I also cleaned off the handbrake boot, which was covered in dirt and grime. It was really nasty! Over the next couple of days, I will change the tumbler in the front passenger handle back to the original. The handle had broken, and my father grabbed the one off of the parts car without changing them out. I grabbed the handle while I was at his house last time.

7/21/99 :

At work today, I drove a friends car. He has an '83 Rabbit GTI, and I wanted to get a feel for the suspension. All I can say is I LOVE IT! Must make something like that a part of my car. As far as the car goes, I cleaned it up a little more, vacuuming the inch of sand and dirt out of the carpet and the trunk. I replaced the rear wiper washer resevoir bracket, as the old one had broken, letting the bottle just sort of flop around in the hatch. I filled it with fluid, and it works! The trunk liner is ruined due to water leaking in the spare tire well, but I grabbed the one out of the parts car while I was there. I also thought of more parts to grab from that parts car, including a spare headlight (one of mine are cracked) and the windshield sprayers, since mine don't work anymore.

7/20/99 :

After work today, I drove the Rabbit to the local car wash and hosed off the engine. Great, giant globs of ooze came off, and the engine is now relatively clean. It could stand another couple of sprayings, but at least I'll be able to see what I'm working on.

7/19/99 :

Didn't touch the car today, although I thought of more parts to grab from the parts car. Need a new horn (beep beep), and also new fresh air vents in the interior. The vents don't work quite right. They have been loose for years, and one of them needs wadded up paper crammed in the bottom of the vent opening to keep it pointing at the passenger. Also, I thought I'd grab the speakers out of the back of it. It has two Polk 4X6's in the hatch that may prove useful in the future. In my Rabbit, I was young and stupid, and cut 6.5" holes in the parcel shelf. I might try to find an uncut one for the future at a later date.

7/18/99 :

First day with the car. I cleaned off the dash, and put the original bezel back in the car. The car originally came with a black dash bezel, but one of the screw holes snapped on it. My dad replaced it with a woodgrain one out of their '82 Diesel Rabbit which was parted out some months ago. The woodgrain one just didn't look right, so I grabbed the original one before I got the car. After cleaning the dash and steering wheel, I drove the car up the mountain to the parentals house. I proceeded to strip their parts car of usable parts. I was able to get :


I also grabbed the VW emblem off the front grill to hang in my cubicle at work. :-)

7/17/99 :

Got the car and drove it to my garage which is across town. I live in an apartment, and rent a garage in town for storage and to work on the car. It will be perfect to use for my Rabbit.

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